Young Lions run free

Rachael Micallef
By Rachael Micallef | 21 June 2016

Cannes Lions might celebrate the best work of the year and show what's coming down the pipe for advertising, but it also looks ahead to who's ‘next’ through the Young Lions competition.

Every year, pairs of creative and strategic young guns from Australia enter the local leg of the competition to take a shot at heading to Cannes for the live brief. The winners of the Australian comp get an all expenses trip to the festival where they take part in a live 24-hour brief to come up with a strategic campaign idea and execute it from start to finish. Last year, Australia's team in the media category, UM Sydney's Chris Colter and Mindshare Sydney's Jack Smyth, won gold so the pressure is on this year's teams.

Australia’s 2016 entrants, sponsored by News Corp, are Giles Clayton and Simon Hayes (JWT Sydney) for print, Kate Allan and Dane Van Veen (R/GA Sydney) for cyber, and Roison Rafferty and Nelson Demartini (Carat and UM) for media.

Before the next crop of talent battles it out on the global stage at the festival, we asked some former Young Lions how the experience gave their careers a boost.

UM strategy director Chris Colter, Young Lion Gold winner 2015: “We all know the future of our industry is in our new and young talent, however these people are also the engine rooms of our agencies – they’re responsible for the nitty– gritty, detail stuff that nobody wants to do butis vitally important to the business. This often, unfortunately, takes up so much of their time and focus that they rarely get the chance to show their creativity and thinking to the wider agency.

Competitions such as Young Lions give young people the permission and opportunity to showcase and prove their thinking to their agencies, the industry and most importantly themselves."

Lida art director Neil Walshe, Young Lion 2009: “Winning was a massive career boost. It instantly raised my profile in the industry because all the top ECDs were judging it. I’ve still got the ad in my book. And although I didn’t win the international comp over in France, Cannes is such a great festival. I’ll never forget some of the work and talks I saw over there.”

DT creative Sam Dickson, Young Lion 2015: “There’s always a bit of added interest from industry and appreciation from your agency when you do well at competitions. But, it’s actually the confidence Young Lions gave me in my abilities that’s pushed me forwards in my career. Both times it taught me that I can rely on myself to come up with good ideas under pressure.”

Freelance digital art director, Natalie Cheng, Young Lion 2008: “It definitely opened doors, it puts you on people’s radars which you wouldn’t normally be on. It puts a spotlight on you, and it makes it much easier to begin conversations with agencies around the world.”

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